Thursday, February 10, 2011

Primary Arms Optics: you don't always have to spend a lot to get a lot

When I buy a piece of equipment, I always weigh the price against the intended use. I have no problem spending a little bit of extra money when I think I am buying something that my life or my comfort level might depend on - firearms, hiking boots, ammunition, or mattresses, for example. And when it comes to the optics I put on my rifles, I am very picky about what I choose. I don't consider myself an optics snob, as I have always owned scopes and reflex sight systems on the mid level of the cost scale, and for the most part I have not had them fail me. As an instructor I am always on the lookout for equipment options that I can offer to my students, most of whom will not be deploying to Afghanistan or hitting the mean streets as a SWAT cop, and who also often have a limited budget with which to buy their gear. Enter Primary Arms, an optics company that offers quality optics at working man prices.

Recently I decided to add a red dot sight to one of my AR-15 rifles, and as I am a big fan of lightweight equipment I decided I wanted a micro dot. Now micro dot sights made by the big name brands sell in the $500-$600 range, and while I would want a piece of equipment like that if this were going to be my everyday battle rifle, I was interested to see what else was out there. Then I ran across Primary Arms, who offered a micro dot for around $100. Wow - that's a big difference. That's the kind of difference that makes a person think that the lower priced unit must be some piece of junk. But I read some excellent reviews, and then I watched a video where a guy took his Primary Arms micro dot, threw it down the concrete about 20 or 30 feet, picked it up and put it back on his rifle and not only did it still work but it maintained zero. Alright - that got my attention.

So I ordered one, and I also ordered the American Defense mount since I had heard that the mount it comes with leaves a lot to be desired. I was excited to really run this thing through the paces - it promised a lower 1/3 co-witness with my iron sights, a 3 MOA dot, and the American Defense mount was supposed to maintain zero if removed with the quick-detach lever and then re-installed. For $160 shipped, I had my doubts. So when I got it, the first thing I did was pull it out of the box and throw it against the wall. It stayed on and didn't shatter - so far, so good. Then I took it to the range.

Once I got it sighted in I began the abuse. First I dropped my rifle to the ground a couple of times and the sight maintained zero. I ran it hard for an entire day, firing from various positions, getting it nice and dirty, and putting about 400 rounds downrange. A few days later I taught a carbine course, where I ran it through a 300 round day. My zero was just as good as the morning I sighted it in, and the mount still offered a good, solid lock. I removed the sight and let it bounce around in my drop bag for awhile, then put it back on the rifle and BAM! it still maintained zero. Since then I have put it through the paces many more times, treating it roughly and making it earn its keep.

And it delivers everything it promises - a 3MOA dot, lower 1/3 co-witness, and a good battery life. And with cheap batteries ordered from places like, there's no need to ever be without power. I'm not a fan of the 11 brightness settings, as I don't need that many choices, but that's my only complaint. I can quickly engage marksmanship targets and torso targets very effectively from offhand position at 100+ yards without issue, and up close at CQB ranges the dot improves my engagement speed quite a bit over iron sights, not to mention the much appreciated low-light benefits.

I am not saying that this micro dot is any kind of replacement for a higher priced optic, such as an Aimpoint T-1, or that I would prefer this sight over an optic of a higher grade. But for the average shooter, competitor, or armed citizen, I say that Primary Arms is worth a look. They have many types of red dots, scopes, and various other firearms optics, parts and accessories, including most of the higher priced name brands. So if you're looking for a good red dot optic that won't break the bank, then take a look at the micro dot - it certainly has impressed me.

Want to find out more? Visit these links: Primary Arms and Primary Arms Micro Dot with ADT1 base.

Stay Aware, Stay Safe, Train Hard.
-Glen Stilson